Settlement made in excessive force case; Sheriff not happy - WNEM TV 5

Settlement made in excessive force case; Sheriff not happy

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Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell is fired up.

He believes the county has been waving the white flag when it comes to lawsuits against his department, and it's costing the taxpayers money.

"I'm disappointed, and the taxpayers are getting screwed," Pickell said.

Pickell is outraged after Genesee County settled a case against his department for $630,000.

"If I was a lawyer, I'd sue the county every day because the county's got deep pockets. This has to stop. I'm damn tired of it," said Pickell.

Jailhouse cameras captured a scuffle between an inmate and Genesee County jail deputies in March 2009.

The inmate, Fernando Davis, was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving.  He later filed a lawsuit claiming use of excessive force.

But before the case made it to trial, the county settled out of court.

"This guy shouldn't have gotten a penny. But how do we know when we never go to court," Pickell said.

He said in his 16 years as sheriff, his lawyer has never been used, all while the county settles one lawsuit after another. Included are many cases he feels the county would have won.

"We've given $630,000 to a guy who gave the state police a lot of trouble coming in, a guy that was drunk, a guy that has a lot of problems. And we just turn around and give him $630,000. Let's take some of these cases to court. Let's take them in front of a jury; that's my point."

TV5 reached out to county commissioners about the decision but have not heard back.

The county will be on the hook for $350,000 of that settlement, while the insurance carrier covers the rest.

The county's general fund will not be touched.

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